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5 Thoughts on Kings-Golden Knights
Well, technically, one of those thoughts is on the other game of the night
It was opening night, I was up late watching the Los Angeles Kings-Vegas Golden Knights game, and since I’m my own boss at Shap Shots, I decided to write something about the 4-3 Vegas victory.
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1. I love Mark Stone.
This isn’t a new thing, I have the receipts.
The only thing wrong with Mark Stone’s game is that he hasn’t convinced his team to list him as a center, therefore positional bias has stopped him from winning the Selke Trophy he deserves.
And on opening night Mark Stone did Mark Stone things, scoring the game-winning goal in the waning seconds.
Stone is back, he’s healthy. Hockey is in a better place.
Vasileskiy vs. Shesterkin is always going to be must-watch TV, but the night cap featuring Jonathan Quick and Logan Thompson also delivered for goalie enthusiasts.
Let’s start with Quick, who is entering his 16th season with the Kings. There’s been a various succession plans for the LA crease, but Quick has survived a couple rocky seasons and at 36 he’s still the opening-night starter.
And even with his age, Quick hasn’t lost any of his quickness. That’s the thing that stood out most to me on opening night, Quick’s motions are still sharp, and he still embraces those battle moments — even when it might not look pretty.
Quick made 47 saves, the Kings were in this game longer than they should have been becasue of him.
Thompson is a unicorn amongst NHL goalies because of his path to opening-night starter for the Golden Knights.
Thompson wasn’t just undrafted, he ended up playing a season of Canadian college hockey, which is typically the kiss of death for an NHL career. Instead he worked his way up to Vegas through a series of minor-league contracts, and is now capitalizing on the vacancy left by Robin Lehner.
He was the less-busy goalie on Tuesday, facing 30 shots, but he checked a couple key boxes that Vegas will need him to check with some consistency. It’s hard to find much fault for Thompson on the goals he did allow, and he limited the Kings, particularly at 5-on-5, to one-and-done opportunities — according to Natural Stat Trick the Kings only created three rebound chances against the Vegas goalie.
3. The 2017 NHL Draft class was and continues to be fun.
Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Elias Pettersson, highlighted the class. Of the 31 first-round picks, 30 have already played in the NHL.
It would be fun to see Gabe Vilardi add to the overall legacy of the 2017 NHL Draft. The 11th overall pick in that draft, his career started with some major hurdles as he dealt with chronic back issues and while he already played in the NHL each of the past three seasons, we never saw Vilardi reach his full potential.
Vilardi earned a full-time NHL role in preseason, and on opening night he scored the first Kings goal of the season on an impressive all-around shift where he created the opportunity with his work below the goal line before drifting back into the slot for a well-placed shot.
Vilardi was later rewarded with an opportunity on the power play, this time working down low to set up the game-tying goal for Arthur Kaliyev.
4. I didn’t get to watch the New York Rangers 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning closely until the final 15 minutes of the third period, I was getting the kids to bed.
From those 15 minutes, I learned more about the Rangers than the Lightning.
Teams have historically respected Tampa Bay too much, particularly late in close games. Instead of continuing to play their game, too often, teams have gone into a late shell against the Lightning and to Tampa Bay’s credit, they often capitalized.
The Rangers didn’t do that, they continued to push, and owned the flow of the game and while it was a two-goal difference, it never felt like the Lightning had a chance to come back after New York went up 2-1 on Mika Zibanejad’s second power-play goal.
5. The new digitally-enhanced-dasher boards (DEDs) are going to take some time to get used to.
I’m already numb to them changing mid-play, blame my consistent watching of the English Premier League. But when the game leaves Camera 1 (the main feed) and cuts to another angle, all of a sudden revealing a traditional board advertisement, it becomes a bit jarring and more distracting.
I’m sure it’s something I’ll forget about sooner than later, but early on it’s going to bother me a bit. I shared this thought on Twitter, seems like I’m not the only one who feels this way.